Have you ever visited a church that did things a lot differently than you’re used to?
Did it make you feel at all uncomfortable?
Recently, I started going to a new church that is a lot different than what I’m used to. And I’ll admit, I felt really, really uncomfortable the first two or three times I went.
But, through that discomfort, God showed me some things about how people tend to react to those things that make them uncomfortable.
More specifically, I want to talk about one of the areas in a church service that garners the most common negative reactions; Worship.
In today’s modern churches the flashing lights, loud music and professionally developed intro videos isn’t something that takes people by surprise anymore. After all, it is the modern way to do things.
I actually used to go to one of these churches when I was in high school but decided to start attending the church I grew up in again (a different church than I mentioned above) because it was a lot closer to home…less of a drive, less money spent on gas…you get the picture!
The difference between the music styles between these two churches were like night and day.
One was clean cut and polished to a fine, perfect finish and the other was unvarnished, and…not perfect.
And I was so taken in by the glitz and glamour of the church I had been going to that I became very unhappy with the way this other church did things.
This unhappiness led me to criticize and critique everything in my mind; “the music isn’t modern enough…it’s too slow…it doesn’t have enough beat…etc, etc…”
This went on for a few months until one day, I decided to verbalize my criticisms to my dad. And the response he gave me is one that will always stick with me.
“Kristen, no matter where you go, there’ll be something you don’t necessarily fully like or agree with. But you have the ability-and responsibility-to decide if it’s so important that you’re gonna let it get in the way of your worshiping God…”
Heavy, isn’t it?
Modern churches-and the people in them- have gotten so hung up on the music and putting on a show for those in attendance that the people have completely forgotten- or missed-the whole point of it all.
Worship isn’t about the people. Worship isn’t even about the music. Worship is about giving God the honor and glory he deserves.
The original Greek word for worship is proskuneo (pronounced: pros-koo-neh-o).
This word that they used is a verb; an action. It literally means, “I go down on my knees to worship”.
You see, the modern “worship” we practice-singing a few songs of praise- is only a small part of what true, full worship is.
Worship is pouring your entire self out before God. It’s falling before God in awe, seeking his face and his will and yes, it’s praising him in song.
There’s a song, Clear The Stage, by an artist called Jimmy Needham that says so much in so few lines that make up the chorus.
You can sing all you want to.
Yes, you can sing all you want to.
You can sing all you want to, and still get it wrong…
Worship is more than a song…
One Psalmist wrote it this way,
“Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God…” Psalm 95:6-7
Maybe you aren’t used to the way a church service is. Maybe the music isn’t as fast (or slow) as you like. But what is all comes down to is this: Are you going to hold back from praising the God that created you just because something doesn’t fit “your style”?
When you think about it, it’s actually an incredibly self-centered act.
When you say “I’m not going to worship because it doesn’t fit my tastes”, you might as well be saying, “Sorry God, you’re not worthy of my worship today because I don’t like the ( fill in the blank ).”
Pretty intense, huh?
There’s a somewhat older song most Christians have heard called The Heart of Worship that has reminded me time and time again that worship isn’t about me-it’s about him.
It says that very thing right in the song:
“I’m coming back to the heart of worship cause it’s all about you. It’s all about you, Jesus.”
Let me share with you the prayer I say when I find myself stuck focusing on the parts of a service I don’t like:
“Lord, help me push past all the stuff and help me worship you with a pure heart. Help me remember it’ about you-not me.”
Every time I say this little prayer, God takes me into a deep, intimate worship experience.
Yes, sometimes it takes me praying this a few times, but God always answers!
I want to challenge you, next time you feel like “sitting it out” because of something you don’t like, pray this prayer-or one like it!
You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how God will show up!